We learned in our first interview with the author that her ultimate goal was to unravel Frida Kahlo's constant obsession with fashion for her recently published book, "Frida Kahlo: Fashion As The Art of Being," but what about her thoughts on fashion? Read below to get her extensive opinion on the fast-paced industry, favorite designers on Cooperativa, and five career/fashion tips. Plus - get Susana's outfit details and shop her looks below.
C: Since learning about your history working for Elle, how do you think it’s shaped the way you see and think about fashion today?
SMV: The power of fashion has completely changed since I started working. The internet exploded the doors of access to an exclusive and intimate world that has since become global. The digital revolution definitely changed the way the world sees, feels, and consumes fashion. Magazines lived a period questioning their value in the fashion hierarchy which helped us focus on our priorities – our essence. Fashion stopped looking for excuses.
Today, power is a real impact in itself. It doesn’t have to do with popularity or the capacity in which it influences people – now it’s all about mobilizing and convincing your audience. As a fashion journalist, the job title or position is no longer enough. You can find an accessories editor sitting in the fourth row of a runway show with more followers than a fashion director sitting in the front row.
For decades, runway shows were the paradigm of exclusivity. Shows were only done once for a select few and lasted only 25 minutes. Today, trying to sell luxury online is a paradox. The internet has made the runway the main show of pop-culture. Bloggers shoot immediately after runway shows and mobilize a massive sector that mainly buys in distribution chains, where the “look-alike” arrives to the retailer quicker than the original piece. Fashion editors do this six months after because they feed on the runway show, respect their turn, and don’t come on the scene until right before its commercialized. The market is the one that decides who has more value at any given moment.
The fashion calendar is outdated; climate is an old-fashioned factor for classifying collections, and seasons don’t govern our closets anymore. While the times of commercialization have followed a certain rhythm since the 19th century, fashion has now become instantaneous. Trends are decided according to someone’s mood, not a designer. Fashion hasn’t lost its magic, but fashion agents are willing to do anything to not lose traction.
C: What are your thoughts on fashion in Latin America versus fashion in the U.S?
SMV: As Mario Testino once told us, Latin fashion is glamour while Anglo-Saxan is business. The real challenge is to build a true Latin fashion industry without losing its essence.
C: What are your favorite fashion trends and what’s a piece you think is worth splurging on?
SMV: Handbags, shoes, and coats. For me, those are the essentials. The style that has influenced and fascinated me the most is hippie-chic because it takes me to Ibiza and Formentera, my beloved islands in the Spanish Mediterranean. It’s where I belong and feel the happiest. For this very reason, I love the sixties and the seventies – the monkeys, the leather, the wide belts, the metal accessories, the long flowing dresses, the Kaftans. In general, I love clothes that are easy and sexy.
C: Any career or fashion advice you could give out?
- Style prevails over fashion. Try to go with a current image that stays faithful to your style. You are your fashion mantra.
- To buy well, you must be prepared to go home (from your physical or virtual mall) empty handed. If not, you’ll spend money on things you don’t really want or need, and you won’t use them. Smart purchases require time and information, as well as a touch of magic. Always be alert and ready to jump at any opportunity. The most ideal finds appear out of nowhere and often times, never the day you need them.
- The best way to predict future is to invent it. Fashion also does this by recovering the best of the past. Modernity and tradition go hand in hand, and that’s why its so addictive.
- Cultivate your personality. Exclusive fashion firms no longer associate themselves with social class, rather with the growth of the individual image. Don’t collect costumes, collect experiences. The price of something doesn’t always mean prestige anymore. Prestige seeks an adventure and transmits emotional and imaginative sensations. Shopping has become much more discreet and personal – it focuses on the pleasure, freedom, and sensations they provide.
- And finally, we can never forget, as Frida Kahlo once showed us, the most important word in fashion is attitude and remembering that how you take it is much more important than what you take.
C: Name your favorite designer on Cooperativa.
SMV: I am absolutely fascinated by the jewels and colorful gems mixed with brass by Olga Prieto.
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